Research Results of School of Geographical Sciences Published in Biological Reviews


The research group of forest plant diversity and soil biological processes of School of Geographical Sciences, Fujian Normal University has made significant progress in the study of the relationship between plant diversity and soil organic carbon. And their related results were published in Biological Reviews, a top journal of biology, in the form of the paper, titled Effects of plant diversity on soil carbon in diverse ecosystems: a global meta-analysis. (2019, DOI: 10.1111/brv.12554) (impact factor, IF=10.288).

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a valuable resource for mediating global climate change and securing food production. Despite an alarming rate of global plant diversity loss, uncertainties concerning the effects of plant diversity on SOC remain, because plant diversity not only stimulates litter inputs via increased productivity, thus enhancing SOC, but also stimulates microbial respiration, thus reducing SOC. By analyzing 1001 paired observations of plant mixtures and corresponding monocultures from 121 publications, we find that both SOC content and stock are on average 5% and 8% higher in species mixtures than in monocultures. These positive mixture effects increase over time and with the deepening of soils. Microbial biomass carbon, an indicator of SOC release and formation, also increases, but the proportion of microbial biomass carbon in SOC is lower in mixtures. Moreover, these species‐mixture effects are consistent across forest, grassland, and cropland systems and independent of background climates. Our results indicate that converting 50% of global forests from mixtures into monocultures will release an average of 2.70 Pg C from soil annually over a period of 20?years, accounting for about 30% of global annual fossil‐fuel emissions. Our study highlights the importance of plant diversity preservation for the maintenance of soil carbon sequestration in discussions of global climate change policy.

The study is jointly supervised by Prof. Chen Han and Prof. Huang Zhiqun from School of Geographical Sciences, FNU, so they are both corresponding authors of this article. And the study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Grant No.:RGPIN-2014–04181, RTI-2017–00358, STPGP428641, and STPGP506284) and the Natural Science Foundation of China for Distinguished Young Scholars (Grant No.:31625007).

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(Translated by Zheng lizhen/ Reviewed by Xie Xiujuan)


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